Cannes 2019, Day 12: Vampire shrink caps off most dazzling festival in years
Virginie Efira hits a career high as the protagonist of Justine Triet’s “Sibyl”, a clever and stylish thriller that wrapped up the most exciting – and competitive – Cannes Film Festival in years. Time for our Palme d'Or predictions.
The 72nd Cannes Film Festival had given us just about every film genre imaginable, from western to bromance to cop procedural. But one Cannes staple was missing: the psychotherapist thriller, that very French fascination.
Enter Justine Triet with “Sibyl”, her first shot at the most prestigious prize in cinema, and a rewarding one too. It stars Virginie Efira as the titular shrink who becomes too emotionally invested in the trials of her patient Margot, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos. Though somewhat fanciful in its plot, I thought Triet’s film was more thoughtful than François Ozon’s seductive but silly erotic thriller “L’Amant Double”, which premiered here two years ago. It helped, perhaps, that “Sibyl” gave us a woman’s take on women’s sexual desires, regrets and tribulations over maternity.
The story opens in Paris, where we find the protagonist in the midst of a career switch to novelist. Sibyl is at a creative dead-end, until she reluctantly agrees to take on one last patient, who will supply the subject matter of her future novel. “Keep the drama fictional,” her editor keeps repeating, even Sibyl does the exact opposite. She embarks on a fictional journey that “plagiarises” both Margot’s conundrum and her own life-experience – eventually ending up in Stromboli, that most cinematic of islands where Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini famously conceived a film and a baby.
“Sibyl” is one of several entries in this year’s competition to feature a film-within-the-film, with a delightful part for “Toni Erdmann” star Sandra Huller as a nerve-wracked director whose movie gets caught up in the emotional storm kicked off by Sibyl and Margot. Efira gives perhaps her finest performance to date, making her a late favourite for the female acting award (particularly since there were relatively few big roles for women this year).
Speaking of awards, Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” has already picked up its first prize on the Croisette, for the least famous member of its star-studded cast: pit bull Brandy. As per tradition, awards season in Cannes kicked off with the Palm Dog on Friday, rewarding the best canine performance of the Festival. Tarantino showed up in person to pick up the prize for his “wonderful actress”. And since my Palm Dog guess proved right, I might as well give my two cents as to who might fetch the other awards at tonight’s closing ceremony.
It’s been a fascinating competition, with an exciting and balanced roster of newcomers and veteran directors vying for the film world's most prestigious reward. Cannes 2019 was timely and political, touching on an array of pressing contemporary issues including climate change, fundamentalism, emigration, genetic modification, and the growing gap between rich and poor. Many filmmakers veered deep into genre cinema, from fugitive thriller to sci-fi western and zombie fests. And there was Hollywood confectionery aplenty on the red carpet, more than making up for the dearth of star power witnessed last year.
The main competition featured a record-equaling five Palme d’Or-winning, two of them two-time winners. Tarantino produced his best film in years, taking us to the source of his dreams and obsessions with an ode to Hollywood at the time of the Manson murders. Ken Loach showed he is becoming sharper and more pertinent by the film with “Sorry We Missed You”, his indictment of the zero-hours gig economy, which I thought was even better than his Palme d’Or-winning “I, Daniel Blake”. Terrence Malick recovered a measure of form with his much-touted return to narrative, “A Hidden Life”, the story of an Austrian conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis, while the Dardenne brothers gave a solid but not particularly inspired take on a teen’s Islamist radicalisation in “The Young Ahmed”.
And then there was Abdelatif Kechiche, of “Blue is the Warmest Colour” fame, who delivered the shock of the festival with his second instalment in the “Mektoub My Love” summer-romance saga. It was a leery, more than three-hour-long nightclub extravaganza that placed his film firmly in the realm of endurance cinema. Many critics were outraged, lamenting a disgrace for Kechiche and the world’s premiere film festival. But if Cannes can no longer take daring, provocative fare, then we might as well close shop at once.
This year’s high standards mean picking a favourite for the Palme d’Or is no easy task, though I thought two films stood out from the rest. Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish auteur beloved of Cannes, but who is still Palme-less, recaptured the emotional heft of his finest work with the self-referential “Pain and Glory”. And South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho gave us the thrill of the festival with his terrific “Parasite”, a dark satire on the gap between rich and poor, as hilarious as it was harrowing. If I had to add an outsider, it would be Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, an elegant and intriguing tale of love and art in 18th century costume, carried by an all-female cast. Such an outcome would of course make history, since only one female director – Jane Campion, in 1993 – has ever won the Palme d’Or before.
Should they fail to land a bigger prize, both Bong and Sciamma would also be obvious contenders for the Best Screenplay award – along with Brazilian duo Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles, whose eerie sci-fi western “Bacurau” marked a brilliant foray into genre (and a scathing critique of Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil). Any one of the abovementioned directors would be worthy of the Best Director prize, though my preference goes to China’s Diao Yinan. Shot with extraordinary inventiveness, his fugitive thriller “The Wild Goose Lake” shines a seedy neon light on a provincial China’s criminal underworld.
Directors cannot win two prizes for the same film, but their actors can – which is good news for Almodovar’s lead Antonio Banderas, whose deeply moving turn in “Pain and Glory” makes him a favourite for the male acting award. The Spaniard faces competition from Italy’s Pierfrancesco Favino, who plays a prominent Mafioso turned informant in Marco Bellocchio’s excellent “The Traitor”, about the Sicilian mob. And then there’s Brad Pitt, who put in the performance of a lifetime as a stuntman in Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…”.
Should they be inclined to reward new talent, jury members will find worthy candidates in French directors Ladj Ly and Mati Diop (who also holds Senegalese nationality), both of them newcomers to Cannes. “Les Misérables”, Ly’s angry flick on police brutality in France’s run-down suburbs, provided the social-realist shock the festival always likes to include in its line-up, while Diop’s “Atlantics” offered a fresh perspective on the refugee crisis as seen from African shores.
While there were no duds this year, Cannes 2019 featured a handful of disappointments, including Ira Sachs’ family drama “Frankie”, Jessica Hausner’s creepy sci-fi outing “Little Joe”, and Jim Jarmusch’s zombie opener “The Dead Don’t Die”. But it’s worth remembering that the critics and jury members rarely think alike. So we can expect this evening’s closing ceremony to spring the usual surprises.
<p>ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE<br></p><p>A mum who feared she would never get pregnant took infertility medication - and ended up with QUINTUPLETS.<br></p><p>Hannah Merton, 23, and husband Jacob, 24, feared she was infertile so she took medication to stimulate ovulation.</p><p>And it was more successful than they could ever have imagined.</p><p>She fell pregnant with FIVE babies, and Philomena, Evangeline, Meredith, Gideon and Elliot were born prematurely at just 25 weeks.</p><p>The teeny miracles weighed between 1lb 13oz and 1lb 4oz each, and had a tough early start.</p><p>The couple were devastated when the smallest quint, Meredith, died aged three days old, following a fatal brain bleed.</p><p>It wasn't until a YEAR later her four brothers and sisters were finally all reunited at home, because Gideon were kept in hospital, after suffering a collapsed lung.</p><p>They recently celebrated their second birthday, and despite the full-on job of looking after four young babies, mum Hannah said she "wouldn't change it for the world."</p><p>Stay-at-home mum Hannah from Akron, Ohio, said: "Having lots of children is scary, and it is crazy, but it is so much fun.</p><p>"I do have my hands full, that is true.</p><p>"But my heart is even fuller, I wouldn’t have it any other way.</p><p>"I suffered from infertility so I took medication to help me ovulate, and it worked better than we expected.</p><p>"We were told at the time I had a 1% chance of having triplets - nobody mentioned the chance of four, never mind five babies because it was so low.</p><p>"When I found out there were five I was in complete shock, and feeling every emotion you could possibly feel.</p><p>"Seeing them in the NICU was love at first sight but I couldn't bear to leave them behind, so finally bringing them all home was an amazing feeling.</p><p>"Having four babies to look after is very messy - I'm constantly cleaning - and it's chaotic and crazy and loud.</p><p>"People are always making comments that I 'have my hands full' - and I do - there are definitely times I think 'how in the world am I going to do this?'.</p><p>"But it's so rewarding and so much fun, and I wouldn't have it any other way."</p><p>Hannah and Jacob, a financial planner, began trying to get pregnant three years ago, but when they didn't fall pregnant, took medication to encourage ovulation.</p><p>In October 2019, a pregnancy test came back positive - and later doctors confirmed Hannah was carrying not one, but FIVE babies.</p><p>Hannah said: "It was very shocking when I found out I had five babies.</p><p>"I thought I was suffering with infertility!</p><p>"We'd been told the chance of triplets was 1% and we thought anything more than that would be virtually impossible."</p><p>Hannah was just five weeks into her pregnancy when she first was able to see her five babies on a scan - but she recalled her pregnancy rushing by.</p><p>At just 25 weeks pregnant, she was rushed into hospital on March 5, just a fortnight before she turned 21.</p><p>The five babies were delivered by caesarean section 15 weeks premature after doctors became concerned for their health.</p><p>The babies were so tiny - each one less than 2lb - and Hannah said they could fit in the palm of her hand.</p><p>The babies immediately needed to be hooked up to endless machines and wires to keep them alive.</p><p>Hannah said: "When I first saw them all, I was shocked, terrified and excited all at the same time.</p><p>"It was love at first sight but so scary seeing them attached to so many different tubes and monitors and wires."</p><p>Tragically, the first-time parents had to say goodbye to one of their daughters, Meredith, at just three days old following a fatal brain bleed which likely occurred during her birth.</p><p>The remaining four tiny babies - Philomena, Evangeline, Gideon and Elliot - had to spend varying lengths of time in NICU because they were too small and weak to go home.</p><p>Hannah and Jacob visited the tots in hospital every day as they fought to live - with Gideon suffering a collapsed lung and spending a long time on a ventilator.</p><p>By five months old, Philomena, Evangeline and Elliot had made it home, but Gideon remained in hospital.</p><p>He was unable to properly meet his siblings until he was a year old, when he finally grew strong enough to go home although remained on a ventilator.</p><p>On March 25 2021, Gideon was finally reunited with his siblings at home.</p><p>Hannah said: "Bringing them home was amazing but scary, it was the first time each of them had not been hooked up to monitors.</p><p>"Suddenly not being able to see their heart rate and oxygen levels was nerve-wracking, but also exciting.</p><p>"It was the first time that we were the ones properly taking care of them."</p><p>Since getting all four of the babies back home, Hannah and Jacob discovered the reality of looking after four tots at once.</p><p>It was made more of a challenge by the pandemic which left them with less support than they would have had.</p><p>Gideon still has breathing problems and a tracheostomy, and Evangeline has cerebral palsy.</p><p>But the young parents have taken the challenge in their stride - and say they embrace the chaos.</p><p>Hannah explained: "It's pretty much go-go-go every day - crazy, chaotic and loud.</p><p>"It's very messy, I'm cleaning my house non-stop.</p><p>"I clean one mess then turn around and there's another one appeared just behind me.</p><p>"But I like it that way - I grew up in a big family too - I was one of eight children."</p><p>The two girls, Evangeline and Philomena, share one bedroom while the boys, Elliot and Gideon, share another.</p><p>The parents keep organised thanks to a strict home schedule - naps, mealtimes and bath time occur at the same time each day.</p><p>Elliot and Philomena are both now on their feet and have learnt to walk and climb - making the parents' job that much more chaotic.</p><p>Hannah said: "There are definitely times each day where I think 'how in the world am I going to do this?'</p><p>"But I don't have another choice - stuff has to get done, so we get on with it."</p><p>But despite the chaotic mum life, Hannah says she wouldn't change a thing.</p><p>She and Jacob said they would even consider one day having another child one day.<br></p>
An England forward enters the record books. A Song gets tough and when going got rough, the Welsh fans sang. Catching upThere was a bit of history for the Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford. He scored England’s 100th goal at a World Cup tournament when he struck his second of the night in the 3-0 victory over Wales. This statistic hit the review. We remember the moment when Brazil scored their 100th goal at the World Cup. It was Pelé to make it 1-0 in the World Cup final against Italy in
Drought, hunger, conflict and rampant inflation have pushed about 130,000 people into camps around Galkayo in central Somalia. Many arrive with children suffering acute malnutrition only to face a new set of dangers
Fleetwood Mac star Christine McVie has died following a short illness at the age of 79, her family have confirmed. The British-American rock band, founded in London in 1967, sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful groups ever.
From a scientist's laptop to the syringe used to inject the UK's first Covid vaccine dose, an exhibition that opened Wednesday in London recounts the quest to produce a coronavirus jab through objects.